Football

FIFA announces £1.2bn coronavirus relief plan to help football through coronavirus crisis

FIFA are reportedly ready to indefinitely extend the 2019-20 season, handing domestic leagues the power to decide their own fate in the coronavirus pandemic.

A coronavirus relief plan for world football which could cost up to £1.2 billion ($1.5bn) has been announced by FIFA.

The game’s governing body has revealed its three-step plan, which includes specifically allocated funding to help women’s football through the Covid-19 crisis.

In a lengthy statement, FIFA also confirmed a number of changes to the men’s international match calendar, including a new pan-Arab tournament to be played in Qatar in 2021.

The FIFA Council convened by videoconference on Thursday to approve the new developments.

The first two stages of the coronavirus relief plan saw member associations receive forward operational-cost payments in advance, with forward development grants able to be converted into Covid-19 operational relief funds. A minimum of 50 per cent of these funds were to be allocated to women’s football.

Thursday saw the approval of stage three, with further financial support to be provided through grants and loans to member associations.

All member associations will be given a universal solidarity grant of $1m, with an additional $500,000 grant specifically for women’s football. Each confederation will also receive a grant of $2m.

In terms of loans, member associations are able to apply for interest-free loans amounting to up to 35 per cent of their audited annual revenues. Loans will be between $500,000 and $5m. Each football confederation will also be able to access a loan of up to $4m.

The statement added: “Both grants and loans can be directed by member associations to the wider football community in their respective territories, including clubs, players, leagues, or others that have been affected.”

As well as the coronavirus relief fund, FIFA also confirmed a pan-Arab tournament to be played next year, using the facilities for the following year’s men’s World Cup.

The as-yet unnamed tournament will feature Arab nations from Africa and Asia, using home-based players only.

The tournament is currently scheduled to be played in Qatar from December 1-18, 2021.

Five other proposals around the men’s international match calendar were also agreed, as FIFA looks to help international football get back underway.

These included the September 2020 international break going ahead as previously planned for UEFA and CONMEBOL nations, though this could change depending on how the coronavirus situation develops.

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